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Dev Psychopathol. 2013 Aug;25(3):801-15. doi: 10.1017/S0954579413000187.

Relational aggression, victimization, and adjustment during middle childhood.

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  • 1University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA.


A secondary analysis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development was conducted to test the mechanisms by which relational aggression in third grade was associated both directly and indirectly with relational victimization in sixth grade. A large sample (N = 1,035; 522 girls; M = 8.3 years old; SD = 0.23) and multiple informants (teacher, child, and parent report) and methods were used to test several theoretically driven hypotheses. Our path analysis model suggested evidence for both direct and indirect pathways consistent with the sequential social process model of peer harassment. Relational aggression was significantly associated with future relational victimization even after controlling for physical aggression and gender. Loneliness mediated the direct association between relational aggression and peer victimization. A second model testing the reverse direction of effect revealed that relational victimization in third grade predicted relational aggression in sixth grade and was associated with loneliness and depressive symptoms in fifth grade, but there was no evidence for any of the indirect pathways.

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